Bay Ridge

Xaverian beats Cardinal Hayes, advances to semifinals

March 10, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Nyontay Wisseh came up with the play of the game for Xaverian in the final seconds when he converted a three­point play off of a steal as the Clippers beat Cardinal Hayes to advance to the CHSAA semifinals. Photos by Rob Abruzzese.
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The Xaverian Clippers picked up a big win when they beat Cardinal Hayes 56-54 during the Catholic High School Athletic League AA intersectional quarterfinals at Fordham University on Sunday.

The last time these two teams met, on Feb. 10, Xaverian lost 68-51 at Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx. Xaverian head coach Jack Alesi said he didn’t change much this time around, but stressed that his players needed to be more poised on the court and thought that made a difference.

Perhaps nobody displayed that poise better than Nyontay Wisseh, who potentially made the play of the game when he stole the ball with 30 seconds left, raced down the court and converted a three-point play to put Xaverian up 52-48. The junior said that he noticed an opportunity earlier in the game, but waited for the right moment to pounce.

“I saw [the Hayes guards] doing the dribble handoff, so I hit the ball from behind and it hit off his teammate, and I was able to get the steal perfectly,” Wisseh said. “Other times I had a chance, but I wasn’t too sure. This time, I was positive. It was the right moment with 30 seconds left.”

Xaverian trailed early in the game with Hayes taking a 17-9 lead in the first quarter. Sayon Charles picked the Clippers up with a big second quarter, when he scored seven of his 12 points, to get them back within one by halftime.

But the Clippers wouldn’t get the lead until the fourth quarter, as Hayes’ Clive Allen, who finished with 27 points, kept his team ahead. Finally, with 3:39 left to play, Bard Featherston nailed a three to put Xaverian up 44-43. Featherston would hit another three to regain the lead at 47-44 with 2:32 left.

“For the entirety of the season, coach has always told me to be loose and relax,” Featherston said. “When I was catching those balls I just thought to let my arms go and not aim, just let it fall out of my hand. That’s what happened. It felt good as soon as I released them.”

After Wisseh’s play gave Xaverian a cushion, Doyin Isaac nailed his free throws to clinch the win for the Clippers. Isaac led Xaverian with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Featherston finished with 13 points, and Charles had 12 and nine rebounds. 

After the game, Featherston reflected on how far Xaverian has come since last year, when they weren’t even involved in the playoffs.

“We were at the opposite end of a lot of these games last year,” Featherston said. “We struggled. As a group, throughout the offseason, we knew it was going to be an 18th-month process starting last April. We knew that if we wanted to get to these games, that we had to come together and play as one.” 

With the win, the Clippers move on to the CHSAA AA intersectional semifinals, where they will go up against Iona Prep. They are one of the few teams to beat Iona this season; they defeated them 64-60 back in New Rochelle on Dec. 20. Nobody has beaten Iona Prep twice this year.

“We want to play against [Iona], too, to make sure they know we’re at the top with Iona and Cardinal Hayes and Christ the King,” Wisseh said. “We’re ready for the matchup.”

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